An Iran Quiz

Via Juan Cole, this Iran Quiz by Jeffrey Rudolph is a counterpoint to the pro-attack narrative for a broad (US) audience but it’s worth a spin wherever you are. As our leaders use Iran as a prop to measure their military and foreign policy election race  particulars it is relevant here -what Washington wants Washington gets- and anyway our ruling class has form when it comes to Persia. I have rejigged the original format so each answer appears after the question, however to maintain a challenging air of mystery the answers are in white, so to see them you have to highlight the text (anyone remember the teletext reveal button?). So, just a bit of fun as they say

Iran Quiz by Jeffrey Rudolph

What can possibly justify the relentless U.S. diplomatic (and mainstream media) assault on Iran ?

It cannot be argued that Iran is an aggressive state that is dangerous to its neighbors, as facts do not support this claim. It cannot be relevant that Iran adheres to Islamic fundamentalism, has a flawed democracy and denies women full western-style civil rights, as Saudi Arabia is more fundamentalist, far less democratic and more oppressive of women, yet it is a U.S. ally. It cannot be relevant that Iran has, over the years, had a nuclear research program, and is most likely pursuing the capacity to develop nuclear weapons, as Pakistan, India, Israel and other states are nuclear powers yet remain U.S. allies—indeed, Israel deceived the U.S. while developing its nuclear program.

The answer to the above-posed question is fairly obvious: Iran must be punished for leaving the orbit of U.S. control. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when the Shah was removed, Iran, unlike, say, Saudi Arabia, acts independently and thus compromises U.S. power in two ways: i) Defiance of U.S. dictates affects the U.S.’s attainment of goals linked to Iran; and, ii) Defiance of U.S. dictates establishes a “bad” example for other countries that may wish to pursue an independent course. The Shah could commit any number of abuses—widespread torture, for example—yet his loyalty to the U.S. exempted him from American condemnation—yet not from the condemnation of the bulk of Iranians who brought him down.

The following quiz is an attempt to introduce more balance into the mainstream discussion of Iran.

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Posted in Imperialism, Iran, Media. Tags: . 1 Comment »

UK Military Test Flying Israeli Drone Over Wales

Before the ash of doom cleared the flight schedules the ‘Watchkeeper‘ drone was successfully test flown on Wedenesday over Welsh skies (ht2 Mike)-

The UK tentacle of French arms giant Thales is delighted today to announce that its new “Watchkeeper” drone aircraft for the British Army has made its first flight in UK airspace. The machine first flew in 2008, above Israel, where the Hermes 450 it is based on is made.

The 20-minute Watchkeeper flight took place yesterday at the new ParcAberporth drone-drome in Wales, operated by controversial MoD selloff bonanza firm Qinetiq, which it is hoped will become a huge economic boon for Wales as the UK robocraft business booms in future. For now though, the main job it has is testing Watchkeeper.

The Watchkeeper itself is a modification of the Hermes 450 craft from Elbit of Israel, which the British Army is already using in Afghanistan under a lease deal with Elbit and Thales. Watchkeeper is superior to a basic Hermes 450, however, as it carries a ground-moving-target-indicator radar (developed with the help of Thales’ French operations) in addition to its electro-optical spyeye package.

The plan is for the British Watchkeepers and their engines to be made (or assembled, anyway) in Blighty. The aircraft will be put together at a company in Leicester called U-TacS, 51 per cent owned by Elbit – thus, Israeli-controlled. The UK engine-making factory will be fully Israeli-owned.

Apart from Thales’ I-MASTER Franco-UK radar, various other European components will replace the ones used by Israel in the Hermes 450. This process is described by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Thales as essentially endowing Britain with a new unmanned-aircraft manufacturing base boasting 2000+ well-paid, skilled British jobs. This is the main reason why it is taking years and costing hundreds of millions to field a fairly ordinary radar+EO surveillance aircraft.

So I guess there’s still a ways to go on BDS where the MOD are involved…(it’s almost as if the military and the UK government are not at the forefront of human rights, quick someone call the Decents and alert their superior moral senses, the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan may possibly not be about building creches). The base for this testing is the UAV centre at ParcAberporth (& Google map). Of course the skilled jobs are trumpeted and with little choice the fact it is making a living out of death does not get a look in, you can’t pay a mortgage with good intentions, thus capitalism marches on with its evil flying robots of death. Protests in 2004 against the site of course fell on deaf ears when corporate profit and political influence peddling in the war-on-terro era trumps all notions of…well morality-

“We are very unhappy at the proposal and we know many local people are also concerned about it,” said Rod Stallard, vice-chairman of CND Cymru yesterday. “It’s been stated by the US Navy that this type of aircraft will have an armed offence capability by 2015. We don’t think Wales should be used as the site for producing such an offensive weapon. To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines. It’s not for rural Wales, or for anywhere else.”

Local resident Keith Haworth said there were a number of questions about the project that needed to be answered.

He added, “Wales may want to be seen as the new Celtic Tiger, but is investment in remote-controlled weapons delivery technology the face a peace-orientated nation wishes to present to the world?”

ParcAberporth was created under the auspice of the legendarily corrupt patronage machine/quango the Welsh Development Agency  which is now simply the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department of Economy and Transport and the privatised Qinetiq, which was sold off cheap to the Empire’s corporate war machine. Rod Stallard had it right ‘To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines.’ Thankfully we have an election now where we can vote and change all that… oh I am funny.

No Signal

Oddly the Mexican government cutting off 24 million mobile phones has failed to fire the civil liberty neurons of those US liberty lovers who quake with outrage every time Hugo Chávez (or sometimes Morales but they aren’t that well informed so mostly they stick with a name they know- Brand Chávez) launches bellicose rhetoric back at the Empire. What must it mean?

DN:- LAURA CARLSEN: Well, in March of 2005, NAFTA was extended into the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and this was an unprecedented move for a trade agreement to go into the security area, but it’s something that the Bush administration had been wanting to do for a long time. Essentially, the idea was to push the borders out of the United States and create a North American security perimeter that would include Canada and Mexico. In this way, the Bush government, what it sought to do was to apply the radical national security doctrine to Mexican territory as well. This is a big problem for Mexico, because it not only violates national sovereignty, but it also imposes on Mexico the security priorities of the United States government at a time when those are very belligerent and aggressive priorities throughout the world.

In the case of Plan Mexico, it’s a perfect example of the result of those policies. Essentially, it’s very important what Avi says, that it’s not just a counter-narcotics program, it’s a regional cooperation security initiative that includes counter-narcotics, counterterrorism and border security. So it lumps these together and basically gets a greater military presence for the United States within Mexico, not actual troops, but in terms of its intervention in the Mexican national security apparatus, and imposes the agenda of the United States government on that country.

AVI LEWIS: [inaudible] Sorry, just to jump in. There’s a fellow named Thomas Shannon, who’s a senior State Department official—

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Avi Lewis.

AVI LEWIS: A senior State Department official named Thomas Shannon, who’s deeply involved in the Security and Prosperity Partnership, I think kind of let the cat out of the bag in a speech this past spring, when he was talking about the SPP and North America as a shared economic space, which is the current lingo for this worldview. And he said explicitly, “What we’re doing, in some way, in a certain respect, is armoring NAFTA.” And I think when you look at the intersection of the economic agenda, the cover of the war on drugs, the immigration and border hysteria underneath it, Plan Mexico represents exactly that, the armoring of NAFTA. And, of course, it’s not talked about in those ways when it’s approved by Congress, when Democrats and Republicans reach across the aisle to support it.

Posted in Imperialism. Tags: . 6 Comments »

Kissinger Shits In The Woods

Otto is rightly not surprised by-

As secretary of state, Henry Kissinger canceled a U.S. warning against carrying out international political assassinations that was to have gone to Chile and two neighboring nations just days before a former ambassador was killed by Chilean agents on Washington’s Embassy Row in 1976, a newly released State Department cable shows.

A Tiny Revolution has the pictorial, Jeff Kaye has background if you need it, but Python’s got the song-

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Not A Mistake An Example

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Via Raed in the Middle: WikiLeaks Video: Exception or Example?

Laura Flanders with- Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films, who was in Iraq and visited the scene of the shootings just the day after they happened, and senior fellow at Peace Action, Raed Jarrar.

Rowley (there a day afterwards) recounts that a survivor of the Apache attack died when troops ran over him virtually cutting him in half and both make the point this is not an aberration in spite of ROE but because of them. Also see Democracy Now-

these residents came and told me that the man who they drove over was alive, that he had crawled out of the van that had been shot to pieces and that he was still alive when the Americans drove over him and cut him in half, basically, with a Bradley or tank or whatever armored vehicle they were driving in.

Not breaking the rules but following them, thus all the counter spin is to hide the reality and conduct of the war. Also Glenn Greenwald on this and Obama’s assassination program and Chris Floyd- The Accomodationists: Memo to Liberals on the White House Death Warrants.

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Jim Lobe On Drone Legality

(IPS) – While welcoming an initial effort by the administration of President Barack Obama to offer a legal justification for drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists overseas, human rights groups say critical questions remain unanswered.

In an address to an international law group last week, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh insisted that such operations were being conducted in full compliance with international law.

“The U.S. is in armed conflict with al Qaeda as well as the Taliban and associated forces in response to the horrific acts of 9/11 and may use force consistent with its right to self-defence under international law,” he said. “…(I)ndividuals who are part of such armed groups are belligerents and, therefore, lawful targets under international law.”

Moreover, he went on, “U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war,” which require limiting attacks to military objectives and that the damage caused to civilians by those attacks would not be excessive.

While right-wing commentators expressed satisfaction with Koh’s evocation of the “right to self-defence” – the same justification used by President George W. Bush – human rights groups were circumspect.

“We are encouraged that the administration has taken the legal surrounding drone strikes seriously,” said Jonathan Manes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “While this was an important and positive first step, a number of controversial questions were left unanswered.”

“We still don’t know what criteria the government uses to determine that a civilian is acting like a fighter, and can therefore be killed, and… whether there are any geographical limits on where drone strikes can be used to target and kill individuals,” he told IPS.

“He didn’t really say anything that we took issue with,” said Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), who also complained about the lack of details.

“But it still leaves unanswered the question of how far the war paradigm he’s talking about extends. Will it extend beyond, say, ungoverned areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen? Because you don’t want to leave a legal theory out there that could be exploited by a country like Russia or China to knock off its political enemies on the streets of a foreign city,” he added.

MORE

Hmmm….while we have concerns about the Death Star we are pleased with Governor Obama’s efforts (so much more charming than that awful Governor Dubya Tarkin) to address the difficult legal issues regarding his blowing up planets program… Interestingly Amnesty International, the only non US founded organisation, is the most critical, it’s a heady brew that imperialism-

Tom Parker of Amnesty International was more scathing about Koh’s position, suggesting that it was one more concession – along with indefinite detention and special military tribunals for suspected terrorists – to the framework created by Bush’s “global war on terror”.

“The big issue is where the war is and whether it’s a war, and we couldn’t disagree more strongly as to the tenor of Koh’s comments,” he said. “It goes back to the idea of an unbounded global war on terror where terror is hardly defined at all.”

Obama Admin Repeats Bush War Rhetoric To Justify Drone Assassinations

(AFP) – The US government for the first time has offered a legal justification of its drone strikes against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, citing the right to “self-defense” under international law. The CIA attacks by unmanned aircraft in Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere have sharply increased under President Barack Obama’s administration but have remained shrouded in secrecy, with some human rights groups charging the bombing raids amount to illegal assassinations. Broaching a subject that has been off-limits for official comment, State Department legal advisor Harold Koh laid out the legal argument for the strikes in a speech late Thursday, referring to “targeting” of Al-Qaeda and Taliban figures without mentioning Pakistan or where the raids are carried out.

The United States was in “an armed conflict” with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its affiliates as a result of the September 11 attacks, Koh said, “and may use force consistent with its inherent right to self-defense under international law. With respect to the subject of targeting, which has been much commented upon in the media and international legal circles, there are obviously limits to what I can say publicly,” he told a conference of the American Society of International Law. What I can say is that it is the considered view of this administration — and it has certainly been my experience during my time as legal adviser — that US targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.”

The CIA would not comment on the speech, posted on the State Department website, but told AFP: “The Agency?s counterterrorism operations are conducted in strict accord with the law.” Rights activists and some legal experts charge the drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries, outside of a traditional battlefield, amount to extrajudicial executions that violate both international and US law.

Koh, a fierce critic of former president George W. Bush’s policies before he took his post, disagreed — saying a US ban on government sanctioned assassinations did not apply. Under US law, “the use of lawful weapons systems — consistent with the applicable laws of war — for precision targeting of specific high-level belligerent leaders when acting in self-defense or during an armed conflict is not unlawful, and hence does not constitute ‘assassination,'” he said. He also argued that the US government was not obliged to offer legal rights to the militant figures targeted in the strikes as the United States was at war and acting in self-defense.

Also, American Society of International Law Press release. Yes the only empire on Earth, that spends more than all other nations together on its military, with approximately 900 military facilities in 46 countries and territories (the unofficial figure is far greater)…is acting in self defence. Koh in 2002-

Still, some national security lawyers said the practice of drawing up lists of people who are subject to lethal force might blur the lines drawn by government’s ban on assassinations. That prohibition was first ordered by President Gerald Ford, and in the view of some lawyers, it applies not only to foreign leaders but to civilians. (American officials have said in the past that Saddam Hussein would be a legitimate target in a war, as he is a military commander as well as Iraq’s president.)

“The inevitable complication of a politically declared but legally undeclared war is the blurring of the distinction between enemy combatants and other nonstate actors,” said Harold Hongju Koh, a professor of international law at Yale University and a former State Department official in President Bill Clinton’s administration. “The question is, what factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?”

He’s a great lawyer, says whatever the guy paying him wants.